Taking the Duck for a Swim…

Words and photos by Maureen McCoy (so apologies they’re not Paul’s standard!)

Helen’s Bay was a treat this morning, okay it was low tide, there was a load of sea grass on the near side to get through and we had to walk a fair bit out until it was deep enough to swim but there was a healthy contingent of swimmers, one of whom had the cutest companion.

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As she walked along the beach cradling this ball of fluff in her arm, I had to find out her story…

“Goose” is a baby Eider duck, possibly around three weeks old and has adopted Clare and her family to live and swim with.

On a kayak trip to Trasnagh Island, Strangford just over three weeks ago, Clare’s 14 year old son met with a morbid sight;

“he found a nest of dead birds, feathers strewn around and no adults to be seen, when he went back to his kayak this tiny duckling was on the seat. He lifted it out but it kept climbing back in again, so he brought it home.”

They think the duckling was only a day or so old. So they’ve looked after her, played with her and Clare regularly takes her swimming.

As Clare and her friends waded in for their swim Goose bobbed along happily swimming beside and between them. Looking for all the world as if she was thinking;

“Yes, I’m cute and yes, the conversation is all about me and yes, I’m fine with that!”

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After her swim she’s very happy to snuggle into the crook of an arm and sleep, secure in the knowledge that she’s safe with her adoptive parent.

At home Goose has no worries about her place in the family, she pecks the dog and cats paws to keep them in check and even made strides towards the family goat – Clare managed to scoop her up in time saying that might be a bit more than she could handle – yet!

(Mind you, if she lives up to her name, she could be a worthy adversary – I remember my Grandma kept geese when we were small & they chased us mercilessly!)

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A real character Goose is quite happy to be introduced to new people; preening for her photo…

 

 

 

“She also loves a ping pong ball…” Clare told me, “We roll it and she chases it to bring it back!”

Not worried that Goose will just wander away, Clare says;

“She’ll stay with us as long as she wants – she’s a wild duck after all.”

 

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Lovely to meet you Clare & Goose – Happy Swimming!

Clougherhead – Co Louth

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Words By Maureen McCoy

Photography by Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media

With countryside to rival any on the West Coast of Ireland, Clougherhead has a popular beach. Chalets line the rise behind the strand making the most of their sea-view and the gently shelving beach gradually fills as families come out to enjoy the sun. With mum and dad, son and daughter and the family dog, all racing in in to enjoy the waves before heading back up the beach for breakfast.

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Families here take pride in their chalet-life during the summer months and some come back generation after generation to weekend and holiday in this prized spot.

Taking the path from the beach we were told of a lovely walk from the village along the sea cliffs into picturesque Port Oriel Harbour. “Be guided by the Dancing Starfish.” They told us. A grassy track up over the cliffs, full of places to scramble and explore, we found craggy inlets topped with mauve clover flowers and white daisies lead down into deep gorges. We climbed down one of these gorges to plunge in and, as we swam around the rock-face, we found what remains of Red Mans Cave, almost inaccessible now after decades of the seas erosion.

There are several gory tales as to how this place got its name; one story is set during the Cromwellian wars of 1649, which tells of Cromwell’s soldiers having put to death a number of Catholic Priests here. Until recently the cave was repainted red to commemorate this event, now, time and sea, have worn it almost away. The cave also is said to lead to a tunnel which runs to the tower at Killarty where St Oliver Plunkett was sheltered prior to his imprisonment and execution in 1681.

With a shiver we re-traced our strokes back into bright sunlight and climbed out to follow the rocky coastline further. Dancing along the harbour wall, standing tall and waving to welcome us into Port Oriel, the starfish is a happy sight.

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Clougherhead has been used as a film location for several movies; Captain Lightfoot (1955- Rock Hudson and Barbara Rush), The Devils Own (1997 – Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt), Perriers Bounty (2008 – Cillian Murphy, Jim Broadbent and Brendan Gleeson)